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By Dr. Harold Pease

The U.S. Constitution requires that states remain a republic and gives the federal government authorization to mandate such (Art. IV, sec. 4), but does it work the other way? Can the states require that the federal government remain a republic and not turn into a socialist state? With the Affordable Care Act one seventh of the economy is turned over to the federal government.

Such is the question posed by Arizona in a new initiative that just qualified for the November ballot. If passed it would give Arizonians two ways of ignoring federal law that exceeds the constitutional powers of the federal government as identified in the U.S. Constitution, either by vote of the Arizona Legislature with the signature of the Governor, or, by the people through a ballot measure. All other powers “are reserved to the States, or to the people,” as noted in Amendment 10 of the Constitution. Arizona acknowledges the U.S. Constitution as “the Supreme law of the land” but will add to her state constitution language prohibiting the U. S. Constitution from being violated by any government, including the federal government.

One of the reasons that the states took three years to ratify the constitution, as submitted by the Constitutional Convention in 1787, was because of their paranoia of big government. Having expelled British tyranny, the last thing that they wanted was to have it return in an American form. They wanted a list of “thou shalt nots;” things that the federal government could never do to them under any circumstances. They called it a Bill of Rights. In the 10th Amendment of that document, they made it clear that all power not listed belonged to the states so the “Arizona take” is clearly constitutionally implied. The federal government is to act only in the 17 areas listed in the Constitution. The word health, or anything like unto it, is not there so such is clearly a state issue. Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling and Justice John Robert’s judicial legislation, the federal government has stolen state authority and in doing so has violated the Constitution.

Both democracy and socialism are hostile to the basic elements of a republic which is decidedly weighted in limited government, is based upon natural inalienable rights, and favors individual differences rather than absolute equality in its philosophical orientation. How far into socialism we have traveled and at what point we are no longer a republic no one can say, at what point does gray become black or pink become red, but certainly one law turning over a seventh of the economy to the federal government is a giant step from a republic and should concern all. It does Arizona.

It isn’t just the one issue of health care where Arizona is concerned but it is the pattern of the never-ending enlargement of the powers of the federal government, at the expense of state prerogatives, and the 10th amendment, that is transforming the federal government from a republic, as understood by the Founders, into something else. It is Constitutional defilement to them and the use of Amendment 10 is central to the restoration of freedom from government and the return of checks and balances of which state jurisdiction is essential, before all power is housed at the federal level and we are no longer free.

Examples of federal overreach are everywhere. Proponents of this change in the Arizona Constitution cite federal speed limits and the federal ban on incandescent light bulbs, as examples of other intrusions into state power (Arizona’s Secession-lite plan, by Alex Seitz-Wald, July 6, 2012) but they could list dozens more. This has to stop they contend and with an overreaching compliant court, they are rightfully using the 10 Amendment tool to do so. Certainly in upholding the 10th Amendment to the Constitution other states should join them.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his articles, please visit